Surry Hills Library And Community Centre

This project is prominently located in the heart of Surry Hills, an inner-city Sydney suburb characterised by a diverse range of ages, income levels, and cultural backgrounds. The architectural context is also diverse: the scale of residential apartments, terrace housing, shops, and commercial/industrial premises varies, though the architectural style is predominantly Victorian. The site is very small, measuring only 25 by 28 metres and bounded on three sides by roads: Crown Street, Surry Hills’ main street, to the east, and two residential streets to the south and west.

The Project Brief And Key Approach

Surry Hills Library and Community Centre / FJMT,© John Gollings

The project brief was created in close collaboration with the extremely active local community. The key approach that emerged from these discussions was that the community desired a facility that could be shared by everyone. Rather than just a library, a community centre, or a childcare centre, it became clear that it was critical to have all of these facilities in one building, in one location. As a result, the building became a truly shared space where the entire community could gather and use in a variety of ways. It was also important for the building to represent and reflect the values of the community.


In response we developed what for Sydney is a new type of public building. It is not a singular typology, for which there are many precedents, but a hybrid public building that is many different things in one: a library/resource centre, community centre and childcare centre all integrated into one modest building and accessible by all. Transparency became an architectural theme on many levels, allowing for a welcoming and accessible building that is open to the public. At the same time, it was critical that the building not only be ‘transparent,’ or only expose what was housed within, but also represented and embodied the values of the community. Accessibility, openness, transparency, and sustainability, as well as a general sense of aspiration, were all important values.

The Series Of Glass Prisms And Certain Formal Elements

Surry Hills Library and Community Centre / FJMT,© John Gollings

Four integrated formal elements emerged from our preliminary research: a new simple open space and platform, a prismatic glass environmental atrium, a suspended ‘U’ shaped timber form, and a transitional foyer space. The Collins Street road closure on the southern edge has been converted into a small public park with a raised grass platform. This new space expanded the building’s function and reasserted itself as a public space. The tapered glass atrium evolved in response to the project’s ambitious sustainability goals, as well as the sense of layered transparency and the project’s aspirational quality. The series of glass prisms creates an open, transparent façade, similar to an open dolls house, and addresses the new open space so that all of the various activities can be accommodated.


Written By Ankit Lad | Subscribe To Our Telegram Channel To Get Latest Updates And Don’t Forget To Follow Our Social Media Handles Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter. To Get the Latest Updates From Arco Unico

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